'India slow on political empowerment of women'

'India slow on political empowerment of women'

UN report pleads for reservation or quota system for improving their lot

 India is going slow on the political empowerment of women, reveals the UN’s Millennium Development Goals (MDG) report 2012. The MDG has recommended quota system as a remedial measure to do away with this anomaly.

India, with its 11 per cent representation of women in Parliament, stands low in the ranking, even lower than some Sub-Saharan African countries.

The political empowerment for women worldwide has been slow, and by the end of January 2012. women accounted for 19.7 per cent of parliamentarians worldwide. This amounts an increase of 75 per cent when women held 11.3 percent seats worldwide.

The developed regions of the world, though slow in providing empowerment, have 23 per cent representation, which is better than 18 per cent of the developing regions. Among these regions, Latin America and Caribbean countries continue to rank the highest, with an average representation of 23 per cent. Sub-Saharan Africa holds the second highest regional ranking of 20 per cent in women’s representation in the Parliament. Progress in Sub-Saharan Africa was sustained—thanks to the existence of quota—mainly reserved seats. The report pleads for reservation or quota system for improving the situation.

“Women are elected in greater numbers in the systems of proportional representation than they are in majority electoral systems. Use of special measures of quotas is also an important factor,” says the report.

By monitoring elections in 2011 around the world, the report points out that of the 59 countries that held elections for lower or single houses, 26 had implemented special measures favouring women and electoral quotas were used in 17. Wherever quotas were used, women took 27.4 per cent of seats, as opposed to 15.7 per cent of seats in countries without any form of quota.

However, since passing of Women Reservation Bill is a remote possibility, this route for improving the situation cannot be adopted.In the case of India, progress has been very slow on this count. In 2000, the number of women member in Lok Sabha was 49, which progressed to 60 in 2012. So, from 9 per cent in 2000 representation, it now stands 11 per cent.
This is far below the average of 18 per cent in southern Asia.  

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